Courtesy of USA Hockey

The U.S. men’s hockey team (3–1) will not progress further in the Olympic tournament after a shocking 3–2 loss to Slovakia (3–2) in the quarterfinals. 

The game opened in the same fashion the past three games have for the Red, White and Blue, with the opponent scoring the first goal. With just over half of the first period gone, 17 year-old and projected top-ten pick in the upcoming NHL draft Juraj Slafkovský scored his tournament-leading fifth goal to give Slovakia the advantage.

The United States responded with help from a former Bulldog with under a minute to go in the first period. Kenny Agostino ’14 carried the puck into the zone with speed before dishing it off to set up a quick passing play that found Nick Abruzzese, a junior at Harvard, alone out front. Abruzzese, a fourth round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, deked to his forehand before pulling the puck to his backhand and putting the puck five-hole on Patrik Rybár, the Slovakian goaltender. 

The Americans then took the lead just before the halfway mark of the second period when Sam Hentges, a senior forward at Saint Cloud State University, scored what seemed to be the winning goal for much of the game. 

The U.S. team appeared ready to advance into the semifinal round of the Olympics with a 2–1 lead deep into the third period. However, with just 44 seconds left to play and its goalie pulled, Slovakia scored to tie the game up, 2–2.

Following a scoreless 10 minute three-on-three overtime period, the United States fell in the shootout after failing to score in five attempts.

For the United States, its goaltender Strauss Mann gave the team every opportunity to win, posting 34 saves on 36 shots and also saving the first four Slovakian shootout attempts before the fifth one just barely squeaked by.

“It was a good move by him — changed the angle there a little bit and then got a quick release off,” Mann said to Sports Illustrated. “I honestly thought I read it pretty well. I thought I was all over it.”

The loss also marked the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics run for two former Elis, Brian O’Neill ’12 and Kenny Agostino ’14. 

O’Neill leaves his second Olympics with one goal and two assists while Agostino scored a memorable goal to ensure victory against Canada.

“It’s something further down the line I’ll be able to appreciate a little bit more,” a teary-eyed Agostino said to USA Today after the game.

The U.S. loss came as a shock as the team entered the playoff rounds of the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. The American squad was also the only team to leave the preliminary round with three regulation wins.

However, in a tournament full of parity following the January NHL announcement barring its players from competing in the Games, all it took was one bad game to send the team packing.

“We played really well our first three games and then this was kind of our first kind of bad game,” Ben Meyers, a junior forward from the University of Minnesota, said to the New York Times. “And now we’re done. I don’t really know what to say at this point.”

This is the third straight Winter Olympics that the U.S. men’s hockey team will leave without a medal.

Spencer King is an Editor for the Sports desk. He has covered the Yale football and women's ice hockey teams. He has also previously covered the Yale men's lacrosse team and most things Bulldogs sports. Spencer is a junior in Davenport College and is majoring in Political Science.